Our immune system health is extraordinarily important for all of us, now so more than ever as we battle COVID-19. We are always surrounded by opportunistic organisms whose main responsibility is to break down decaying matter. If we don’t take care of our body, we become that decaying matter and develop infection or chronic disease.
In this article, I will discuss how the immune system works and the most important strategies you can apply today to boost your immune system naturally.
Building Your Immune System
The immune system functions like a muscle. When our muscles are challenged with exercise, they adapt and grow stronger. When our immune system is challenged through mild levels of toxic and microorganism exposure, it gets stronger and more resilient.
- Example: Two people are exposed to the same virus; one person develops the flu while the other doesn’t. What is the difference? The strength and maturity of the immune system.
- Hormesis is exposure to toxic substances and environmental challenges in small amounts, which is beneficial for the body. The basic biological trait is the organism’s ability to resist and adapt appropriately to both internal and external stresses. The hallmark of aging is the organism’s inability to withstand stress.
- Exercise allows us to better withstand physical and emotional stress so long as we allow proper recovery steps to rehydrate and refuel our bodies afterward.
- Meditation and prayer allows us to better withstand mental, emotional and spiritual stress.
- Virulent exposure to challenges allows our immune system to mature and gain strength as long as we provide the necessary modulators for it to adapt appropriately.
Critical Immune System Modulators
There are certain things we all need to have good immune coordination. These nutrients are critical to overall health. You have heard of many of them, but the question is: How is your body coordinating its immune function?
The key modulators include healthy gut flora, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and trace minerals, medium-chain fatty acids, a healthy nervous system and good sleeping habits.
1. Balanced Gut Flora
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Our intestinal system and mucosal membranes (sinuses, respiratory tract, genitalia, etc.) are lined with billions of different bacterial colonies. We are a living bacterial hotel! Progenic bacteria work in symbiosis with us (help promote life), whereas pathogenic bacteria create toxic waste and promote disease in our body. These two forms of microorganisms compete for nutrients and thus work against each other.
A healthy ratio is 85% progenic to 15% pathogenic. When this ratio is skewed, it is called dysbiosis, a condition that is extremely hazardous to our health and vastly impairs immune function. A high-quality probiotic that contains soil-based organisms is a great addition to a natural health plan.
2. Balanced Fatty Acid Ratios
Several critical fatty acids (omega-3: ALA, EPA and DHA; and omega-6: LA and GLA) cannot be synthesized in normal human metabolism and thus must be derived through diet. These fats play an important role in the cell membrane and the receptor sites that bind hormones and neurotransmitters. They also form prostaglandins (intracellular hormones which play a role in cellular inflammation cycles).
The ideal ratio is 1 to 1 (omega-6 to omega-3). However, the typical American diet is loaded with the omega-6 variety due to the large impact of grains and vegetable oils, and therefore, most people are around a 16-to-1 ratio. This imbalance causes improper immune signaling, inflammation and decreased immunological strength.
Supplementing with EPA and DHA provides the body with incredible neurological and immunological support. These powerful long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and create an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body. This reaction helps to calm the immune system and keep it firing with the balance, synchrony and precision necessary for long-term health.
3. Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D has been shown to suppress most elements of the adaptive (inflammatory mediated) immune system while inducing most elements of the innate immune system.
Thus, D3 prevents and effectively treats autoimmune diseases by suppressing adaptive immunity while enhancing the first line of defense against invading microorganisms by strengthening innate immunity. This same mechanism makes it a critical player in the battle to “never get sick again.”
I recommend taking around 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per 25 pounds of body weight and get regular sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, so it absorbs best when you take the supplement with food.
4. Antioxidants and Trace Minerals
Foods rich in major antioxidants and trace minerals are key to healthy immune function. For super doses of the highest quality, choose fresh organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and cage-free eggs.
Eat lots of green leafy veggies and those rich in color like red cabbage, red onions, peppers, etc. Be sure to use pink salts and lots of water as well for trace minerals and effective hydration. Add in a lot of herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric.
Herbs are super rich in antioxidants and have the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), which is a measure of antioxidant activity. These will support your immune system, help to fend off infections and assist your body’s self-regenerative abilities.
5. Medium-Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs:
Medium-chain triglycerides such as caprylic, mystic and lauric acid are powerful immune stimulators. Lauric acid, which is found in abundance within coconut oil, converts into “monolaurin,” which has powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research has shown it has the ability to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza (flu) and various pathogenic bacteria.
In addition, these fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats but are sent directly to the liver, where they are immediately converted into energy, just like carbohydrates. So the body uses the fat in coconut oil to produce energy, rather than be stored as body fat. Two to three teaspoons of pure extra virgin coconut oil daily will rev up immunity and metabolism allowing you to prevent illness and lose weight. You can simply use it as a cooking oil, add it to a smoothie or steamed vegetable dish or rub it on your skin and it will get into your system transdermally.
6. Healthy Nervous System
Damage to the top of the neck (atlas/occiput junction) causes pressure on the brainstem, switching the body into a chronic sympathetic overdrive. This heightened fight/flight system causes a disruption in blood supply to the brain, trouble relaxing, concentrating, sleeping and decreased immune function.
Chronically, this condition can lead to inflammatory disorders such as asthma, allergies, sinus issues, headaches/migraines, frequent colds/flus and cancer cell formation. Chiropractic adjustments take pressure off this region, allowing the power of life to recharge the body. Several studies have shown a 200% increase in circulating immunoglobin levels over the following 24-36 hours after an adjustment.
7. Balanced Sleep Cycles
With the absence of light, the body produces melatonin, which induces sleep. This hormone, made by the pineal gland, is also an instrumental player in modulating the immune system. Poor sleeping habits lead to immune malfunction, inflammatory disorders, frequent colds/flus and other problems.
The best sleeping habits include seven to eight hours daily. The period 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. brings about large growth hormone secretions as well as stimulates liver and gallbladder cleansing mechanisms. Sleeping (at least by 11 p.m.) during this critical time frame is a key to long-term health.
Which of these seven strategies do you need to support your immune system more effectively? As we’ve all learned over the past several months, a healthy immune system is critical.
This article originally appeared on DrJockers.com and on the Samaritan Ministries International blog.
Dr. David Jockers is a member of Samaritan Ministries, one of the leading health care sharing ministries in the nation, and a natural health doctor, functional nutritionist, corrective care chiropractor, exercise physiologist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. He currently owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia